The physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of communing with nature were never so clearly proclaimed as in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, written 175 years ago.
What Thoreau believed, medical science has since confirmed: time spent outdoor lowers stress levels, boosts both physical and mental health, and increases life expectancy. The side-benefits are pretty impressive: lower probability of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and mental distress. Greater quantities of nature are also associated with improved cognitive development in children.
All that?! But what’s the recommended dose? How much nature is needed to achieve those benefits?
The journal Scientific Reports now has the answer: two hours a week. Previously existing medical conditions and differences in age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have no effect on the outcome. And it doesn’t matter whether you commune alone or as a form of socializing and recreation. At two hours, everyone benefits. Less than two hours and the benefit is not significant; more than two hours provides no additional benefit. Two hours is the magic number. If you want the details, click here.
The swimming pool, a visit to a local park or beach, a bicycle ride, summer camp — these are all great ways to increase your exposure, and that of your kids, to the outdoors. Even a room with a great view can provide indirect benefits. It makes no matter whether you do it all at once or parcel it out in smaller increments. Just leave the tech at home.